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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Please come to school, pretty please, with a cherry on top . . .

Schools are struggling to get students to show up every day. Twenty-six percent of students are chronically absent, missing at least 10 percent of the school year, up from 15 percent before the pandemic.


Fordham's annual Wonkathon is asking for policies or practices -- or something -- that will persuade students and their parents that attendance matters.


Is it time for more tough love -- either for parents or students? Alternatively, should some schools and systems offer new learning models that don't require students and teachers to attend class in person every day? What else?

So far, there's been "talk about making school more engaging, building relationships with parents, and clarifying guidance about when sick children should and shouldn’t stay home."


But initiatives, such as home visits, mentors, attendance coaches, data analysis, haven't returned absentee rates to pre-pandemic levels, says Fordham.


The chronic absentee rate hit nearly 40 percent in 2021-22 when schools reopened in Richmond, writes Lauren Wagner on The 74. The district hopes reaching out to families will make a difference.


Surveys show many parents underestimate how much their children are missing school or don't think staying home is a serious problem.


Through home visits, district staff found the "root causes" of erratic attendance, says Shadae Harris, the district’s chief engagement officer.


Several families were living in motels because they couldn’t afford rental deposits. District staff "secured grant funding to help those students get stable housing," writes Wagner. School staffers -- known as "family liaisons instead of "attendance officers" -- work with parents. A “We Love You Here” campaign helps families "feel supported instead of judged for their children’s absences."

 

If truancy continues, parents may have to appear at a hearing, which is held in a middle school. The gym has booths offering various community resources and services. “Instead of ordering [the families] to do something more punitive, [the judge] orders them to see every single service,” Harris said. “So they have a little card and they visit the service. Then the judge will give them a certain amount of days to improve attendance.”


Richmond's chronic absenteeism rate fell to 25 percent last year and 19 percent this year.


A Virginia school district started esports clubs at three middle schools to create a sense of belonging and boost attendance, reports Alyson Klein in Education Week.


The clubs meet during the half-hour advisory period that starts the school day.  "At two of the schools, no student who was part of the esports club was considered chronically absent— even though kids were encouraged to join based in part on their spotty attendance records," writes Klein. Club members also are less likely than non-members to earn D or F grades. It helps to show up.

5 Comments


JK Brown
JK Brown
Jul 08

A very good data driven look at


Sending a Kid to Public School Has Become a Death Sentence

Based Camp with Simone and Malcolm Collins


Malcolm and Simone Collins delve into the alarming state of modern education, revealing startling statistics on student mental health and academic performance. They discuss the rise in depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation among students, particularly young women and LGBTQ+ youth. The couple explores how current educational practices may be contributing to these issues and examines the growing trend of homeschooling as a response.

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superdestroyer
Jul 08
Replying to

As if the mental health of the kids in the bottom half of the class at the Dalton School, Harvard Westlake or the Chicago lab school are doing any better. Or that students at the Brentwood Academy in Tennessee do not have mental issues.

Homeschooling is more about parental control and leaving the field of academics to Asians and Asian-Americans.

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m_t_anderson
Jul 08

Sounds to me like many families are not highly motivated to have their children attend school regularly. Why should they be? On the pro side: it's a free education, and there's free lunch. On the con side: it's a compulsory crap education*, and a goodly proportion of the students are undisciplined gangsters.


Maybe it's time to rethink the whole idea of public education, instead of tinkering with a 19th century German institution designed to instill social and political control.


*One pundit commented "After 12 years of mental and physical education, you ought to be Batman."

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superdestroyer
Jul 08
Replying to

And what country without public education should some state in the U.S. try to emulate?

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Heresolong
Heresolong
Jul 08

Things I hate about educational "statistics".


"The clubs didn’t take long to show results. Just a half year into the program, chronic absenteeism dipped at all three participating schools, compared to two years earlier.


At two of the schools, no student who was part of the esports club was considered chronically absent—even though kids were encouraged to join based in part on their spotty attendance records."


Not one single actual statistic that demonstrates that the esports club helps chronically absent students come to school


Absenteeism dipping after introduction of club demonstrates correlation, not causation.


Students being "encouraged" to join the club based on attendance does not demonstrate that one single student with chronic absenteeism actually joined the club.


I'm not…

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